SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: [Sigia-l] Usability Testing comments
Re: [Sigia-l] Usability Testing comments from Giga
From: Listera (listera_at_rcn.com)
Date: Thu Mar 27 2003 - 17:06:38 EST
"Thomas Vander Wal" wrote:
> It seems that if we test or have to test our assumptions/hypothesis we
> have a credibility problem as a profession.
> It is a long stretch to say that we should test everything we do
You're on a roll now.
> But, similar to software development we can set tests that can set
> quantitative tests on such things as response times and stress testing.
Usually, such tests are the domain of technical teams. I happen to have been
coding and designing for nearly two decades, so to me, it's trivial to be
cognizant of the effects of introducing, say, a listbox on a page and of how
that will impact array processing at the back end when an element is
inserted and sorted. I can easily see the impact in code on session
management at the backend when a user clicks on a back button. Or the
ramifications of putting all parts of a form on a single page. Or the
resource cost of tracking a user over every visited page. Etc.
As I design, whenever a problem involving these, for instance, comes up I
don't really have to stop, go into a closet, and don my white lab coat to
convince either myself, colleagues or the client as to the validity of what
There may be, on the other hand, some open-ended questions that can come up
during design that nothing but testing would resolve. Then I'm happy to
> Often we as IAs do test to show results and to better
> our own understanding of what we do.
As I have said here many times before, I draw a clear distinction between
testing for your own understanding and for client's edification. The former
is essentially work product, it's internal, best kept to yourself. (I do a
lot of 'wireframes over a napkin' but clients never see them; they see
> In my case I would love to do more testing with users (one reason is it show
> the value of IA, and helps dispel myths) but it is not in the budget...
...hopefully not. Clients should not be paying for tests designed primarily
to show (off) 'the value of IA' or 'dispelling myths'. When a client pays
$150 vs. $50 for an IA, hopefully with the former, they *are* getting
tangible value in terms of expertise and ability to move the project along
without having to stop over every issue/problem to test. Presumably, many of
these problems have already been encountered by the expert and dealt with,
or, if they were not, the expert can make decisions to significantly reduce
the risks of getting it wrong, or the expert can pinpoint areas where
nothing else but testing will do the job so that the resources are
I am not against testing. I am against equating professionalism with
Nullius in Verba
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:55:41 EST